Wilet co-founder, Anna Heyd remembers the wine that started it all: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. "Wine is amazing", she says of a glass she tried during a wine tasting while working at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Thus, the love affair began. She went on to receive her training and Sommelier Diploma in 2012 through the then International Sommelier Guild. Naturally, we thought, hosting season is the perfect to pick her bring for a few of her favourite bottles for a holiday table.
Advice for beginner sommeliers
"If you're just starting out, find something you like. Drink that, stock your cellar with it, keep it simple. If you are wanting to branch out and taste more, especially over the festive season, plan to spend $5 to $10 more on a bottle than you might normally. Head to your local speciality wine shop and ask for help. Us wine nerds, we love to help. Tell them what you like, what you are comfortable spending and that you want to try something new. Grab a couple new bottles and taste them alongside your trusted favourite. Comparing wines is one of the best ways to learn."
A budget-conscious crowd-pleaser
"I love white wine and think it is a very appropriate "party wine". Linen can stand some stains, but limiting the chances of red wine spills will exponentially lower any host's stress level. Melon de Bourgogne, normally grown in the Loire region of France where it is called Muscadet, is my favourite crowd-pleaser. If you are in B.C., check out this bottle. If you are located in the US, order this gem directly from Bow & Arrow winery. And if you are in Ontario, here's a great pick."
A mid-tier classic
"Cabernet Franc! It's the best festive red, light enough to sing with turkey and cranberries but "red" enough to please a prime rib. Also, it has vegetal notes that compliment non-meat dinner options! Look for Cab Franc from Chinon (France) usually good value, my favourite producer is Bernard Baudry. This grape also thrives in BC and Ontario wine growing regions, so also give a "local" Cab Franc a try this
A real showstopper
"Champagne. Not to be confused with any other sparkling wine, the holidays are the time to treat yourself and your loved ones to the real deal. Only produced in the Champagne region of France, made from some blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Skip the big houses (think Moet or Veuve Clicquot - they are almost always waaaaay too sweet) and find a little more value in the slightly lesser know producers. Pol Roger is the LBD of champers, you simply can't go wrong. I am also a huge fan of Bruno or Pierre Paillard grower's champagne."
A special shoutout
"Chenin Blanc! The best white grape out there, IMHO. Grown in many different wine regions around the world, my favourites are grown in South Africa, British Columbia and France (the Loire, again). Wonderfully fruity, dry and versatile. My very favourite producer is Champalou."
Check back tomorrow for more seasonal tips and recipes during our 12 Days of Hosting series! Follow Wilet on Instagram and subscribe to our Newsletter to be the first notified for new launches, sales and exclusive perks.